How We Afford Traveling Full-Time
"So how do you pay for all of this? It seems awfully expensive!"
No worries, it’s the unspoken question everyone has, and we’re happy to answer. ;) Well, to start with, we don’t have a trust fund or some secret inheritance that made us rich, and we’re not crazy wealthy. It turns out that sailing can actually be a very affordable way of life.
Sailing Costs vs Life on Land
A few perks of sailing is that if you buy your boat outright, you don’t have rent, a mortgage, property tax, or homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance. If buying a boat outright sounds daunting, keep in mind that if you're willing to go with an older boat (ours is from 1986), you can find them for cheaper than most cars. Since we will be anchoring most of the time and using solar panels for our electricity, we won’t have monthly utility bills either. We’ll be using a dinghy to transport ourselves from our watery home to shore, so we won’t have a car or need auto insurance. So right off the bat, a lot of the larger costs associated with life on land aren’t an option.
Of course, some things have similar costs to their landlubber equivalent or are quite a bit more expensive. For example, any sort of marine grade product is way more expensive than its normal land-based counterpart. While anchoring near islands, food, toiletries, and other day-to-day products often are significantly more pricey. We will have more repairs and maintenance since boats tend to take a lot more of a beating from the environment than most houses. With that in mind, we set aside part of our yearly budget for boat maintenance, and we have some savings in case we end up needing some large repairs or replacements along the way.
So how do we manage the costs we will have? One of the big things for us is that we’ve really focused on minimizing the base cost of our life as much as possible. We bought a smaller boat in good condition without any bells or whistles, so its ongoing costs would be more manageable. It doesn’t even have a refrigerator! Even though it may be lacking certain comforts, it means there are fewer gadgets that can break. So, overall, a current win in my book. ;)
For our day-to-day lifestyle costs, we prepare almost all of our food ourselves instead of eating out and try to buy clothes second-hand whenever possible. It’s amazing how much you can save by just doing those two things. We also try to maximize affordable or free recreational activities before paying for more expensive ones. It helps keep us on our toes, focused on the natural beauty around us, and makes the paid adventures or excursions even more special.
One more thing we do to mitigate costs is learn as much as we can so we repair and outfit the boat ourselves (as much as possible). The learning curve has been a bit crazy, but getting hands-on has actually been the best way to get to know our boat, all of her systems and quirks, and how to maintain her. It has been highly valuable paying experts for things like tuning the rigging and creating our bimini, but for most everything else, we’ve tried to do it ourselves. Not only has it been financially advantageous, but it has been a great way to dive into boat ownership.
In outfitting the boat, we’ve tried to set it up so we’ll be prepared to stay on top of routine maintenance with spare parts already aboard. That way, we have fewer times we have to pay an arm and a leg to import a part or buy it at a premium in a remote location. By staying on top of maintenance (hopefully), we’ll be able to avoid some potential repairs along the way.
Income While Traveling
As far as actually acquiring (and keeping) the funds, for us I think it really comes down to us both being big savers. While studying at university, I worked up to four jobs at a time and didn’t spend it on much other than the barest of necessities. Not that I’d recommend doing university like that, but... it worked out alright. John also worked throughout university and as we each graduated, we began working full-time. Even after we both started earning money, we still kept our expenses to a minimum. Over time, we realized that we wanted to try new lifestyles and that our savings and frugal habits would actually be a huge help.
I’ve been working in the online world as a freelance illustrator and designer for the past several years, which gives me the flexibility to work remotely while we travel. Although it will be a very modest income while working remotely, every little bit helps. The skills I’ve developed along the way have also helped make this website, our custom merchandise, and the ShaggySeas brand a reality.
Through ShaggySeas, we are also able to continue staying financially “afloat.” ;) Our patrons and tip jar contributors help keep working film, audio, and editing equipment on board so we can continue creating videos for you guys! Traveling full-time is quite unforgiving to electronics, so our patrons are a wonderful help. Thank you patrons!
We have loved learning so many different elements to becoming liveaboard sailors, including how to make it a financially feasible lifestyle. Do you have any other tips for sailing frugally? We’d love to hear them!